Liturgical Time and Commercial Time

Have you ever noticed how we long for meaning in every aspect of our lives? The Epiphany proclamation on Sunday reminds us how the timeless one came into time to redeem time. The Baptism of the Lord yesterday reminded me that Christ came to begin a new creation. He established a new dispensation. The Baptism story trembles with all the symbols that were present in the creation story: the waters below, the firmament above, the spirit hovering over the waters, the second Adam being pronounced as God’s Son, and God saying that he is ‘well pleased’ as he said in the first creation ‘That’s good’.

Because the mystery of the incarnation is woven into history, every event–no matter how mundane, is part of the great plan. The providence of God involves every moment of time and through the incarnation every moment of time–every year, every month, every week, every day–all of time is redeemed. The liturgical year is a wonderful ‘sacrament’ of this truth. We live out that year and every day of that year in a constant awareness of the mystery of the incarnation and the mystery of our redemption.

How crass of the devil, then, to mimic this beautiful and ancient rhythm of time. Have you noticed how the worship of Mammon offers our society a sort of fake and tacky imitation of the liturgical year? I call it “commercial time” instead of liturgical time. Virtually every month there is some sort of “celebration” which is an excuse for the retailers to shuffle their junk around and plaster their stores with new posters and set up new displays to draw us into the monthly round of consumption.

January: New Year. February: Valentines Day. March: St Patrick’s Day and Easter. April: Easter. May: Mother’s Day. June: Father’s Day. July: Independence Day. August: Summer Holidays. September: Back to School. October: Halloween. November: Thanksgiving. December: Christmas.

I’m not being a Scrooge (or at least not much of one) I’m just lamenting the fact that we have replaced true celebration with shopping, true Christian festivals with fake commercialism and the beautiful sense of liturgical time with commercial time.

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution I mean to keep. I want my parish and my family to celebrate the Christian year with feasts–to combine our hospitality and family events with the feasts and seasons of the year. I mean to be intentional about this, and to prove I’m not a Scrooge–I am planning some serious parties this year.

So watch out.

  • doctoreric

    We should Feast with The Church and we should Fast with the Church. There is a beautiful ebb and flow in our liturgical calendar. We should restore the Ember Days, the Rogation Days, and the full days of Fast and Abstinence that were in force before Paul VI changed them. We should also Feast. We should have parish celebrations, parish festivals on Feast Days that have meaning to the parish. We should have processions. We should reclaim our Catholic identity before it's too late.

  • poppyseed

    Father, I just made this same observation to my wife a week or so ago. Because I am a scrooge, I'll argue that it's much worse. You forgot:- The BCS championship bowl has been stretched out a week to provide New Year's Eve/Day continuation- The Super Bowl and Oscar awards amount to national holidays.- Memorial Day and Labor Days are essentially paens to the mighty BBQ. No honoring the dead for the former or reflections on St. Joseph and Rerum Novarum for the latter. I applaud your 2012 initiative!God Bless

  • Sonja

    I'm with you, Fr. A great place to do this in a simple way for families is to change your menu to match the liturgical year. I find great ideas at

  • rachael

    Amen! I said something similar about this to my fellow compadres in my RCIA class this past Sunday. In the past 18 months, I've become very thankful for the Church's liturgical year.